Climate change protestors have warned that they will shut down London Heathrow for one day in June and 10 days in July using drones unless the airport abandons plans for a runway expansion.
Extinction Rebellion is a “socio-political movement” around the world that protests government response (or lack of response) to climate change. The group, which I will not link to, believes that air travel is “genocidal” and engages in protests aimed to shutdown major economic arteries in hopes that it will influence public policy.
Concerning London Heathrow, the group said:
Extinction Rebellion demands the Government begins to act on its declaration of a climate and environment emergency by cancelling all Heathrow expansion.
The addition of the planned third runway would make Heathrow the single biggest carbon emitter in the UK; to expand the airport at this critical point in history would be madness.
We understand the action will cause disruption to a great number of holidaymakers, however we believe that it is necessary given the prospect of far greater disruption caused by ecological and societal collapse, if we don’t act now.
Holidaymakers are being given advance notice to change travel plans.
Meanwhile, Aviation Minister and House of Lords member Baroness Charlotte Vere pledged strict punishment for anyone who breaks the law by launching a drone near Heathrow or any other UK airport.
Flying drones near an airport is a serious criminal offense and using drones to deliberately put people’s safety at risk carries a maximum life sentence.
No Government has done more to reduce carbon emissions, and Britain is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change.
Any illegal activity must be met with the full force of the law.
This is Ecoterrorism
The FBI defines eco-terrorism as:
The use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.
First, drones shut down airport precisely because they present a safety risk. Second, shutting down a major international airport during the peak summer travel season has such a devastating ripple effect across the economy. Third, ironically I might add, shutting down Heathrow forces diversions, which burns more carbon-emitting fuel. Diversions also increase the number of cars and busses on the road.
Shutting down the world’s seventh largest airport will only turn more people against the cause of careful environmental stewardship.
The sobering reality is that members of Extinction Rebellion are already planning on going to jail: they are willing to accept the consequences for their actions. Thus, the UK government is left with the arduous task of planning against a group that has no fear of the consequences of their destructive actions.
People of conscience around the world SHOULD care deeply about the environment. Every one of us should be good stewards of the earth. But air travel will not stop; the world economy would otherwise grind to a halt. It is simply untenable. And air travel unites peoples and cultures, leading to greater understanding and cooperation. Climate change does indeed pose a great risk to human welfare in some regions. But we cannot just shut down the world’s economic engine, for that will unleash a far greater calamity.
> Read More: When A Drone Strikes A 737
image: David Holt / FLICKR